Enjoy Koalas Around Your Suburb
Koalas live in eucalypt forests in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
Koalas are fussy eaters, eating only a few types of eucalypt leaves. They eat up to one kilogram of leaves each day.
You could think that eucalypt leaves make Koalas drunk, because they seem so dozy. This is a myth - Koala food has little energy, so they rest through the day, saving their energy to look for food at night.
The Aboriginal name for the Koala means ‘no drink animal’. They get most of the water they need from their food or from dew or rainwater on leaves. During drought people have seen Koalas come down from their trees to drink.
Koalas can live up to 18 years.They breed once a year, usually between September and March.
You can help look after Koalas in your Backyard
Koalas love living in the same places we do. Lush coastal forests are just what they need, but humans are building more and more houses in their habitats. Many people end up with Koalas in their backyards.
In 2012 Koalas in eastern Australia were classified as vulnerable and added to the Federal threatened species list. There’s a lot that you can do to be a buddy to a Koala.
Be a Backyard Buddy
- Native trees as they are the safest place for a Koala. Try to keep large trees in your backyard and plant replacements.
- Large areas with lots of trees, so that they can move safely between trees.
- Quiet time for sleeping during the day to save their energy.
- Dogs which frighten or even attack them if allowed to roam free, or if the Koala enters the dog's backyard.
- Garden pesiticides, which can harm Koalas if they absorb chemicals through their paws or from the leaves they eat.
- Fast traffic as Koalas take their time as they cross the road, so drive slowly in Koala areas.
Be a Buddy to Koalas
- keep your dog indoors at night.
- find out what type of eucalypt trees Koalas like in your area.
- plant the type of eucalypt trees Koalas like.
- plant other types of trees along fencelines and creeks to give your Koalas safe travel paths from cars and dogs.
- slow down when driving in Koala areas at night.
- have the number of your local Koala rescue group in your car.
- using pesticides in Koala areas.
- cutting down trees taht may be a home to and a food source for Koalas.
- you see a Koala trying to cross a road that winds through the bush. They only want to get to a nearby area to find food or a tree to rest in. Slow down when driving near trees and densely vegetated areas as animals could be about.
A few more Koala facts
- The name Koala is thought to come from an Aboriginal word meaning 'no drink animal'.
- Koalas might look like a cute teddy and have the nickname 'Koala bear', but they are marsupials. The closest living relative to the Koala is the wombat.
- Newborn Koalas are so little they could fit on your thumbnail. Koala joeys stay in their mother's pouch for about seven months.
- The body of a Koala is made for climbing trees. They have rough paw pads with sharp claws which help them grip tree trunks and branches.
In the Big Backyard with Koalas
In the forests on the east and south coast of Australia, little Koala joeys are starting to emerge from the pouches of their mothers. Walking through the forests you may be able to hear the soft clicking, squeaking and gentle humming coming from the treetops as a mother Koala communicates to her young.
Koalas live in long-term communities, much like we do. Koalas can live up to 17 years, and are territorial. They will stay in the same place unless they're forced to move on.
Within a community of Koalas their home range needs to have suitable areas of forest ideally eucalypt, which is large enough to support a healthy Koala population and allow expansion for their maturing young.
The home range needs 'home trees' and 'food trees'. A Koala community will only occur if the habitat is just right. They need to find a space in the forest that has good rainfall, suitable soil and their favourite gum leaves.
They may not look it, but Koalas are very fussy eaters! Their diet consists mainly of a certain type of eucalyptus leaf which is poisonous to other animals. From a young age, Koala joeys are fed a form of faecal matter called pap that helps them to digest the leaves.
In Australia, there are over 600 types of eucalypt trees but Koalas will only eat between 40-50 varieties and only really prefer 10.
The breeding season starts in October, during which male Koalas make loud grunting noises to attract potential mates. They also warn off potential rival males by making a loud gurgling noise in their throats which can be heard from over 800 metres away. Male Koalas also attract females by letting off a powerful, musky odour that comes from a mixture their urine and scent glands that they rub on the trees as they climb.
NSW Koalas were added to the National Threatened Species List at the end of April 2012, as today there may only be 10,000 Koalas left in the state - compared with about 10 million before white settlement in Australia.
Over 80% of Koalas' habitats are now on private land and with our houses getting closer to Koalas 'home range' there is a higher risk of dog attacks and road accidents. By taking simple measures like keeping your pets inside at night, planting and maintaining the Koalas favourite eucalypt trees and being more aware on the road, you can help our beautiful Koalas.
DID YOU KNOW?
By helping to maintain and plant new eucalyptus trees in and around the forests Koalas live in, you will be encouraging the further growth of the Koala population by helping create a safe and sustainable environment for them to live in in the future.
The Koala gets its name from the Aboriginal word meaning "no drink" because it receives over 90% of its hydration from the eucalyptus leaves. Koalas will only drink when there isn't enough moisture in the leaves, like during a drought.